5 Filters

A not-bad-at-all Video Nasty

Following on from another thread, last weekend I watched the 1974 film The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue, which was shot in the Peak District/Lake District. This despite the auteur being a Spanish director, Jorge Grau, with a mainly Italian cast, with the interiors shot at Cinecitta… then dubbed into English. And quite well I would say though some accents are a bit, um, variable.

I hadn’t heard of the film until maybe two years ago when I read Andy Sharp’s book The English Heretic Collection. Spoofing English Heritage and the Blue Plaques scheme, he awarded black plaques to various places of infamy or weirdness around England such as the Margate Shell Grotto, the atomic testing sites in Suffolk, and various locales used in occult/horror films (especially Hammer Horrors). I heard of it again when watching the extras on the DVD of the film Censor which stars Niamh Algar as an analyst for the British Board of Film Censors at the time of the video nasties furore in the UK. (It’s a good, not great, film which I’d recommend.)

And so is The Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue, which does have some rather nasty moments where the living dead eviscerate their victims and have a good old scoff of their insides. In the tradition that was only just getting started around then, the victims do have the consolation of themselves being re-animated and it’s not too big a spoiler, I think, to reveal that the film even provides a semi-plausible explanation for the plague getting started in the first place. This involves Science Gone Bad, in the form of ultrasonic radiation, say no more.

Some key scenes were filmed in and around Castleton which @NewSi mentioned in a previous thread Senseless acts of beauty (H/T George McKay) and a large spooky church that is sutured into the action partway up Winnatts Pass.


With quite a few spare corpses knocking about, the crypt and graveyard provide one of the best set-pieces of the film. Also one of my favourite lines: a brave British bobby (who looks like someone from Crossroads but is an Italian actor) tries to distract the living dead by being delicious-looking and yells to his (dropped) police radio “Help Sergeant. I’m being killed by dead people”.

Said Sergeant is a right nasty piece of work, a skeptic with a k, of course, who brutalises anyone he takes a dislike to. He’s soon got our dashing hero George on his shit-list as the sort of hippy Charles Manson type that gets right up the noses of right-nasty-piece-of-work coppers.


I thought it was really well-made for a film that’s almost 50 years old, very entertaining, the photography is vivid and uses the settings well and there’s a fine performance from a redheaded Italian actress whose name I’ve forgotten as the main damsel in distress. Impeccably dressed and groomed throughout.

The film kicks off, by the way, with a montage of what’s supposed to be London (Sheffield, I think), with a number of people wearing face masks, dead birds in the gutter, and so on. Provides a great contrast to the lush green English countryside that is the setting for the rest of the film. Castleton was clearly not the honeypot tourist destination then that it is now, but has changed remarkably little.


An eight out of ten I reckon.